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    What are your Kids doing on their computer?

    British parents haven't a clue what their children are getting up to on the home computer, according to a new survey.

    A whopping 76 per cent of parents admit they regularly leave their children alone when they are on the internet.

    Which means that children as young as FIVE are free to surf the web and access inappropriate websites.

    In fact, the average tot is left alone online for more than TWO HOURS every week, giving them plenty of time to access pornography and graphic imagery, adult chat rooms and sites promoting violence and other unpleasant material.

    The poll of 2,000 parents was conducted by Cyber Sentinel, a new software solution that uniquely offers parents the ability to block websites and monitor their use of the internet.

    Speaking on behalf of Cyber Sentinel leading educationalist Jacqueline Harding MA, Cert Ed says: "British parents seem to have absolutely no idea that by leaving their little ones alone online, they are exposing them to a number of risks.

    "Without parental controls and appropriate e-safety software in place, most children could accidentally access unsavoury websites and become vulnerable to a range of risks - from cyber bullying to gambling; suicide to self harm and grooming by online predators.

    "For instance, if your child were to accidently type in 'Cboobies' instead of 'Cbeebies' they could be directed to a number of websites featured topless women - hardly appropriate viewing for young children."

    "Parents need to combine the appropriate level of presence and supervision with the right software methods to ensure their kids are safe at all times."

    The poll revealed that 63 per cent of parents understand they are responsible for their own child's internet safety - but most are in the dark about online risks.

    More than half believe that by being in the next room they are close enough to hear and monitor what their child is doing on the computer.

    But over a third (37.1%) admit they usually have no idea what their child is looking at while online, and one in five wouldn't know how to check what sites their child has been accessing once they had logged off.

    Cyber Sentinel has won the support of Professor Tanya Byron PHD, PsychD, Msc, Bsc who presented the government with an independent review of the risks to children from exposure to potentially harmful or inappropriate material on the internet and in video games.

    Professor Byron confirms: "This poll has show that 63 per cent of parents recognize that they are responsible for protecting their children online, which is a great start.

    "Whilst parents may be tempted to prohibit the internet use of their children, this is not the answer and may be counter-productive by causing family argument and underhand behaviour.

    "Using an effective internet safety package combined with having open discussions with your children on e-safety, helps to maximize your child's online freedom - within safe boundaries - set by you."

    Most parents claim their child had to be at least 12 years old before they were trusted to be alone with the computer 100 per cent of the time.

    Seventy five per cent of parents believe their child fully understands the dangers associated with talking to strangers online.

    But 60 per cent of parents readily admit their child never tells them who they have been talking to online.

    Two thirds of parents know they could do more to protect their children, and a fifth of parents even admit their child has completed of accidentally accessing an unsuitable website.

    And 49 per cent of parents said that although they know that if a word is mistyped in a search engine it could direct their child to inappropriate websites, they don't know what to do about it.

    Ellie Puddle of CyberSentinel says: "As a parent myself, I know what it is like to presume that your kids will transfer the rules and guidelines you stipulate for them in the real world to the cyber world.

    "But this does not happen automatically - parents need to be prepared to talk to children about their online world, to guide them on what is appropriate or not.

    "CyberSentinel allows you to safeguard your child, just as you would safeguard your five year old in the park or insist on your teenager taking precautions when they go to a party. The software can be personalized for each user, based on their age and your concerns.

    "In the same way that we teach our children how to cross the road, we should also teach them to navigate their way safely online.

    "Innocent or deliberate mistakes can be made by children that direct them to online material that is potentially negative. But for the first time, parents in the UK can now take advantage of e-safety software that will help their child continue to enjoy the many learning and development opportunities that the internet has to offer."

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